Monthly Archives: February 2010

Post Apocalyptic Weekend Wrap up

I just caught the first episode of the BBC series The Survivors which follows a group of people in the wake of a virus that kills 90% of the worlds population.  I don’t know if there’s anything particularly new in the story but I also don’t know if that’s necessary for these end of the world tales.  The first episode was pretty good both in terms of acting and production values and so, if you’re a fan of apocalypse fiction, try to find a copy and watch it.

I’m not sure how I missed this given the first season was from 2008 but they seem to have started another season this year.

Oh, and nertz to the BBC for not allowing those of us on this side of the pond from watching their programs on-line.  Gee, and are there really people out there who don’t understand why people engage in file sharing?

AND…

It might be the end of the world so you better start stocking up your food supplies now.  There’s a fungus that kills wheat with amazing efficiency and we have no idea how to stop it.  (h/t daily dish)

Times must be tough…

…because when I saw this video (h/t boingboing) my second reaction* was ‘That’s terrible that guy is wasting food like that.’  Don’t bother watching the whole video.  Once you’ve seen the first banana explode you kind of get the idea and there’s no big finish.

*My first reaction was ‘They’re really taking liberties with the word ‘artist’ these days’

Redemption!

Finland 5 Slovakia 3

The Finns win the bronze!

The fall of Rome with spoiled brats

I’m finally getting around to reading this months Atlantic monthly (you’d think for the amount of time I shill for them they’d throw me some swag or something) and hit upon ‘How a New Jobless Era will Transform America‘ by Don Peck.  It’s grim.  Basically, unemployment (and underemployment) is over 17% and we’re going to need amazing levels of growth over an extended period of time if we want to get at the ‘benchmark’ rate of around 5%.  But that’s not what caused me to write about the article.

Check out this quote:

“…the innovative potential of the U.S. economy looks limited today.”

“Dynamism in the U.S. has actually been in decline for a decade; with the housing bubble fueling easy (but unsustainable) growth for much of that time, we just didn’t notice…”

At the risk of appearing melodramatic, for some reason I immediately thought about the late Roman empire.  While I don’t think this the the end (or even the beginning of the end) I began thinking about how aware we might be to historically significant trends and events that might be going on around us.  Did Romans see the spread of the Laitfundium and the tying of people to hereditary occupations would lead to weaken the empire over the long term and eventually give rise to feudalism?  Heck, provided you weren’t in the way of the migratory nations would you even know the empire was ‘falling’ (a long, inevitable decline rather than just a temporary rough spot)?

“We haven’t seen anything like this before:  a really deep recession combined with a really extended period, maybe as much as eight years, all told, of highly elevated unemployment…We’re about to see a big national experiment on stress.”

So how might something like this affect the population and then what would the long term consequences be (if any) on the culture (political/social/economic) and international system?

That leads into my second point which is a bit more whimsical.  Peck makes it quite clear that it’s ‘folly’ to try to characterize entire generations with labels and stereotypes.

But, once that formality is out of the way, he takes a couple pages to generalize and slap around Gen Yers.  Normally, I’d really call him out on that but since I enjoy talking trash about them as well (Us generation  Xers are the only decent generation – everyone else is either too old or too dopey).

Well, all I’ve got to say is we’re in big trouble if Peck is right about these knuckleheads.

“…a combination of entitlement and highly structured childhood has resulted in a lack of independence and entrepreneurialism in many 20-somethings.  They’re used to checklists…and ‘don’t excel at leadership or independent problem solving.”

Peck then goes on to spread the gloom.  These economic conditions could also strike a blow to the institution of marriage as the poor put it off (too expensive and risky) but don’t postpone having children (which are seen as a ‘low cost way to achieve meaning and bolster identity’).  This leads one of Peck’s sources to say:

We could be headed in a direction where, among elites, marriage and family are conventional, but for substantial portions of society, life is more matriarchal.

One of the emerging stories of this recession has been that crime hasn’t risen as many people expected.  Some say this proves that ‘liberal’ theories about why people commit crime is flawed (lack of alternatives, economic shortcomings, etc.).  The argument in the article is that the impact of a distressed economy on the social fabric takes time to manifest (insert your trying to turn a battleship on a dime metaphor here) and will take a long time to recover from as well.

So…predictions of immediate spikes in crime were unfounded and treated society as much more nimble than it is.  For us, the worst may be in the pipeline.

Finally, misery won’t be a positive social bonding experience either:

…both inside and outside the U.S., lengthy periods of economic stagnation or decline have almost always left society more mean-spirited and less inclusive, and have usually stopped or revered the advance of rights and freedoms.

The article does have some problems.  It’s filled with so many ‘could’, ‘might’, ‘may’ phrases that it sounds like a a weather report (‘We can expect either rain or sun today so bring your umbrella and sun screen!’).   The article relies on various experts in the field (although the article doesn’t provide a lot of clues how reliable/credible these people are) and anecdotal evidence so it’s difficult to tell how much of this article is steak and how much is sizzle.

Did Lunghu predict the earthquake in Chile?

No doubt, you’ve heard about the massive 8.8 earthquake that’s struck Chile today.  Allow me to point you to a post written by Lunghu more than a week ago about predictions based upon the principles of Chinese cosmology:

Here are lunghu’s own predictions, based on factors other than the 5 Elements, 10 Stems, 12 Branches, or 12 Animals.

A devastating earthquake is looming in the Andean region. . . possibly in central Chile.

This could be coincidence…..or Lunghu could be good at making predictions….OR (my preferred hypothesis) Lunghu has access to an earthquake machine.

How would anyone get an earthquake machine, you ask?

That’s simple.  Strike a deal with the mole men.

Now zombies want rights….

Courtesy of Lunghu who refrains from covering this sort of edgy stuff in his blog.  We need to stop screwing around worrying about immigrants and terrorists and start looking at the real threat we face.  From France24 (note, no American media outlets are covering this):

An appeals court in the northern US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota on Wednesday allowed a group of zombies…*… to press ahead with their lawsuit against police who arrested them for disorderly conduct.

The appeals court overturned a lower court in finding that the group of seven “zombies” had been wrongfully detained during a 2006 shopping mall protest against consumerism.

The three-judge panel, by a two-to-one vote, ruled that Minneapolis police lacked probable cause to arrest the demonstrators for disorderly conduct.

Disorderly conduct?  So that’s how these activist judges refer to cracking open the heads of innocent people and eating their brains.

May I recommend the next thing you click should probably be this.

*contains pesky ‘facts’ which would ruin this post.

Those plucky Finns

What the fuck was that?